lighted christmas tree

How to Plan Ahead for Christmas

It’s early October. You barely have the children back at school; Halloween stuff is all over the place and I’m already writing about Christmas.

If you want to reduce the stress associated with the holiday season, get an early start on holiday planning. Christmas is associated with love, joy and goodwill toward men. Then December comes along, and your stress level is higher than a mountain climber hanging off a cliff by his fingertips. To reduce holiday stress this year, create a holiday checklist to make the season go smoothly.

Shop for Christmas Year Round

Anytime you are out shopping keep an eye open for Christmas gifts. You may be able to take advantage of sales or clearance items at off-peak times. At the least, you spread the cost of buying gifts over twelve months rather than breaking the bank at the end of the year.

Other shopping ideas:

  1. Store all the items in a specific place so that you don’t forget you have them.
  2. Keep a written inventory of what you buy throughout the year, so you know what you have and what you might still need to buy.
  3. Order Christmas gifts online to save time and avoid the local shopping crowds.
  4. If ordering online, order in advance to ensure delivery before Christmas.

Organize Your Gift List

Sit down and review your gift list at the beginning of November. Figure out which gifts you will send through the mail and put those at the top of the list. Once your list is complete, match the gifts you bought throughout the year to the appropriate people on your list.

If you bought some of your gifts “on spec”, don’t worry. Put them aside for last minute gift needs: office party, school event, etc. Worse case, you can carry them over until next year.

Organize Your Christmas Card List

The Christmas gift list will be like the Christmas card list. In late November, you should take the first list and add the names that need Christmas cards. Take your list and divide it by five 5. Spend five days preparing the assigned number of Christmas cards until the list is complete.

Get Them Wrapped

Buy your Christmas wrap early and keep it accessible. Every time you return from Christmas shopping, wrap the gifts immediately. Tag them, so you know who gets what and put them away. It will save time in the long run and you won’t have to devote a day to completing this task.

Organize Your Food

If you plan on entertaining during the holiday season, plan your meals and every time you go shopping, stock up on any non-perishable items or frozen items you will need. Take stock of your pantry and fill it up with necessary items.

Before shopping, plan the quantities of food you will need based on the number of people you are expecting to come over. Even if you over-buy, you can add the extras to your leftovers inventory.

Prepare Your Home

Take a tour of your home and note things to be fixed or added. Figure out how you want to decorate for the season. Check the condition or number of your decorations: replace or add as needed. Check electrical decorations: lights, ornaments, etc. Make sure they are working and repair or replace, if desired.

Now is the time to check any household equipment that will get used and overused during the holidays. Make sure that nothing will break down at a critical moment in your celebration.

These ideas are simple, but they can free up extra time and help you to enjoy a smooth holiday season. With fewer tasks to be accomplished in such a short amount of time, you can focus on the important aspects of your holiday celebration.